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Food Review City Cafe

While the fantastic views from the City Inn's Skylounge bar might be attracting drinkers from across the city, Tom Goodhand discovers that their ground floor restaurant can also hold its own

Food Review: City Cafe

With the recent completion of the Granary Wharf project just south of Leeds train station, residents at the development and, indeed, the rest of Leeds, have suddenly had their drinking and dining options increased.

City Inn initially wowed punters with their Skylounge bar, which boasted fantastic views across the city, and around the development, bars and eateries have started springing up – such as Ossett Brewery’s The Hop and the soon to open coffee shop-cum-cafe Out of the Woods.

At the same time as launching Skylounge, City Inn also opened up their ground floor restaurant called City Cafe. The eatery is certainly not a cafe. Boasting a menu designed by Scott Macdonald, who has worked with Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay and appeared as a tutor on ‘Masterchef’, formal (but not stuffy) waiting staff and a stunning modern site with great views over the canal. If you’re lucky you may even see a barge float past.

The evening menu at City Cafe is an a la carte affair charged at £16.50 for two courses, or £21.95 for three, this is supplemented by a regularly changing market menu, designed to reflect what’s fresh and tasty on the market.

While the a la carte menu is very reasonable, the wine comes in a little steep if you’re drinking by the glass, as I take a 250ml glass of rioja for a mighty £8.50 (although it did come in a nice little carafe) and my partner’s crisp 175ml glass of Soave costs a staggering £7.25. We recommend drinking by the bottle.

Appetites whetted by the wine (which is as tasty as the price might make you expect) and a basket of bread with dipping oil, we tuck into our starters. My pan fried breast of quail with honey and five spice was rich and gamey with a satisfying sweet, yet tangy, sauce. Even more exciting was my partner’s spinach velouté with poached egg which came superbly presented, with the egg sat alone in a large bowl and a jug sat by the side for pouring the velouté as one sees fit. The dish proved as fresh as one would expect for an item taken from the fresh ‘market menu’.

My partner was, unfortunately, less impressed with her main course of ricotta and basil gnocchi. While the gnocchi was clearly homemade and provided the kind of comforting doughiness you’d expect, it wasn’t flavoursome enough to pull off the stunt of coming without the typical rich tomato and cheese sauce that you’d expect. The side dish of tomato and onion salad (£2.95) also didn’t really cut the mustard, with the composite ingredients not impressive enough to make the salad any more than adequate. Luckily for me the trio of pork – confit belly, roast fillet and sausage – was substantial, rich in flavour and worked beautifully with its accompanying sweet red cabbage.

Since we weren’t ready to tear ourselves away from the views – the sun setting behind the old industrial buildings of Holbeck and the aforementioned barge chugging along the peaceful canal – we took in a couple of desserts to extend our stay. My chocolate and pecan tart was beautifully bitter with rich, soft chocolate filling and my partner was impressed with the selection of British and French cheeses from the cheese board (which City Cafe are kind enough to serve in three different sizes, thus suiting all appetites).

The final bill punches in at £71, which is not a sum to be sniffed at for a meal for two. Unfortunately, the whole meal would probably reflect better value had the wines been just a little cheaper. But at £17 for a two course meal, the basic offer makes this place well worth a visit, for the service and the views if nothing else. Add good – not stunning – food to the ticket and this place becomes yet another more than respectable face on the Leeds dining scene.

Posted on Wednesday 26th May 2010

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Comments on Food Review: City Cafe

Comment by Dave Barnes

Posted on Thu 27th May 10 6:37 pm

Amazing food and staff…....Sky Lounge is simply stunning and even the security staff smile which is a rarity!!

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